Music Recommendation #1: KRISTEENYOUNG

11 May 2011

Several weeks ago, my friend Marci told me I should start including music to listen to as a part of this blog. This one is for you Marci.

As a child and young adult (hell, even now), I was plagued by self-doubt, self-recrimination and all around low self-esteem. I sought comfort in the Christian god. I found comfort to an extent, but also saw my constant failings as a human brought out in front of fellow, judgmental Christians and an all-powerful, albeit fictional, deity.

I jumped into music, especially Metallica, and found emotional release in the blistering riffs of Kill ‘Em All. Then, I decided I wasn’t dedicated enough to god (after watching one of those Christian “documentaries” decrying the inherent Satanism of all rock music) and dove fully into Christian music. I did find some wonderful stuff, including Five Iron Frenzy and Switchfoot. However, I wasn’t quite satisfied. Eventually, I would step away from my evangelical Christianity and the “songs that made [me] smile and the songs that saved [my] life” would no longer be relevant to me. I needed something else.

Along came graduate school and, finally, the discovery of You Are The Quarry. I had never heard the sweet, melancholy croon of Morrissey before this time, but I was instantly ensorcelled. As soon as track three, “I Have Forgiven Jesus,” played, I knew I had met the musical love of my life. Since then I have devoured the music of Morrissey and The Smiths.

I was incredibly riled up and excited to see Morrissey in concert at Utah’s E Center Ford’s Theatre for the first time. As much as I loved Morrissey’s live performance, I was even more fascinated by that raucous opener KRISTEENYOUNG.

Prior to the concert, I picked up two of Ms. Young’s singles which included the tracks “Kill The Father,” “Life’s Not Short, It’s Sooooo Long,” “London Cry” and “The Dawn of My D-Day.” My musical life would never be the same.

[Kill The Father by KRISTEENYOUNG]

Kristeen Young’s lyrics and music spoke to my deep need to be bold, irreverent and simultaneously worship and disdain those who came before me. When I saw her perform, I knew the lyrics to most of her songs and belted them out as passionately as I could muster. The crowd seemed antsy for Morrissey to appear. But I hoped he never showed. I wished desperately for Kristeen and her drummer, “Baby” Jef, to play all night and for eternity.

[I’ll Get You Back by KRISTEENYOUNG]

Today, I urge you to listen to KRISTEENYOUNG and buy all of her music and see her any chance you get.

[The Devil Made Me by KRISTEENYOUNG]

[Fantastic Failure by KRISTEENYOUNG]


Five Iron Frenzied

Earlier today, I don’t even remember how, I learned that Five Iron Frenzy have reformed.

Holy fucking fuck.

Five Iron Frenzy’s first album came out in 1996, when I was deep into my evangelical period. (I knew I was rabidly Christian, but my best friend recently applied the “evangelical” descriptor to my behavior. I have no doubt that was accurate.) At some point before I found their music I found a renewed faith in that old scoundrel, Jesus. I decided I was going to purge evil music out of my ears (Metallica, Danzig, Megadeth, Tom Jones – although I did feel justified keeping Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life and U2’s The Joshua Tree.) So I dove into Christian rap, punk (what?) and ska. When I finally came upon Five Iron Frenzy’s Upbeats And Beatdowns I thought my heart was going to fucking blow up right out of my chest. I could barely drive away from the Christian bookstore (which was in Dublin, GA – home of the Redneck Games – and was probably called The Olive Branch or something of the sort) in my 1997 Pontiac Sunfire (four-door). I was bouncing in my car from the first yelp from Reese Roper’s throat. (Have no doubt that I tried to sing and dress exactly like Mr. Roper, especially in their video for “A Flowery Song.”)

Over the years I zealously purchased each Five Iron Frenzy album, saw them in concert several times (including during their tour of US roller rinks) and even had their bass player, Keith Hoerig, eat my french fries (that sounds dirty) at a Christian music festival in Stone Mountain, GA. I was in love with them. I wanted to be each one of them and I wanted to marry their saxophonist, Leanor “Jeff The Girl” Ortega.

Even when I walked away from Christianity, I still clung to Five Iron Frenzy. They were the music I got to keep when I broke up with Jesus.

In 2003, Five Iron Frenzy broke up. Occasionally, they still popped up when I was shuffling through music on my computer. Most people I met after high school had no idea of my complete devotion to and obsession with this Christian ska band from the 1990s.

Now they have returned and their new single, “It Was A Dark And Stormy Night,” jolts me to the past. I am back in that car, in that roller rink, near that smelly tent jumping like a fucking lunatic and screaming every lyric and skanking every limb. I no longer connect to their Christian message, but their music still gets to me.